Cancer: Rogue Cells Strike Out on Their Own to Survive in a Hostile Environment

Heidi Stevenson draws on the work of  P. C. W. Davies and C. H. Lineweaver to examine an alternative view of cancer which would indicate an holistic approach to treatment.Hyperoxidation of Cell

Cancer is a result of evolution rewound to a wilder time.

A new and revolutionary view of cancer suggests that it’s the result of cells reverting to ancient pre-animal and pre-plant programming in an attempt to survive in a hostile environment. Cancer is cells that have reverted to an earlier, wilder time in a survival attempt for themselves only. Rather than a means of survival for the organism as a whole, cancer appears to be cells doing whatever it takes for them, and them alone, to survive.This is a radically different view on the nature of cancer in both the allopathic and holistic views. In the holistic view, symptoms of bad health are seen as the body’s attempt to heal itself. Cancer may be the exception, though it doesn’t change the holistic approach of resolving the underlying cause.

The Allopathic View of Cancer

None of the allopathic views of cancer make sense. The authors of the Physical Biologyarticle(1) state in their introduction:

Cancer is the result of the proliferation of misregulated cells belonging to the host organism, and while the onset of some cancers may be triggered by viral infection, or chemical carcinogens, cancer itself is not an infection. Cancer cells are the cells of our own bodies, not foreign viruses or bacteria.

Much is written on the causes of cancer, but all have missed the mark. The suggestion that it’s a result of mutations misses significant factors about cancer, as will be explained later. Likewise, the discovery of oncogenes doesn’t explain it, though they are part of the cancer scenario. While it can be triggered by a virus, the fact is that cancer is not an infection. As the authors point out, cancer cells are not foreign. They are part of our own bodies. But unlike all other cells, they act independently against the body, not symbiotically with it.That cancer is a survival adaptation appears to be right on target—but it’s a selfish sort of survival, one that kills the host. The explanation of cancer as cells that have mutated and gone rogue harkens back to the Darwinian view of evolution, survival of the fittest. It doesn’t, though, make much sense as a cancer cause. As the authors point out, it requires that a series of survival traits be developed rapidly to counter the body’s mechanisms for healing to destroy the cells.This would require that:

  • Random mutations would have to be nearly uniformly beneficial to the rogue cells, which flies in the face of what we know: The vast majority of mutations are not positive; they are usually contrary to life.
  • Random mutations would have to occur frequently enough and in the same manner in each person who develops cancer. This reliance on pure chance doesn’t explain the consistency in cancer’s development or to the enormous number of changes that must occur. The authors refer specifically to the jumbled chromosomes and aneuploid cells, which are typical of advanced cancers.

Two Neurospheres Forming ConnectionsThe mutations-leading-to-cancer theory simply makes no sense. It requires too many chance positive mutations, without any of the more common negative mutations, to be able to explain the consistency of cancer’s development in the body. None of the allopathic explanations can say why metastasis occurs. Why would a tumor send scouts out to find new locations to grow? Metastatic cancers are recognized because they are of the type of the original, rather than like the tissues around them. It’s now expected that at least one in four people will develop cancer—and the vast majority will die of it. By and large, the allopathic treatments developed against it benefit only the profits of Big Pharma and doctors. Most people still die of their cancer or from their allopathic treatments.

The Oncogene Connection

Oncogenes are often blamed for causing cancer. However, that explanation skirts the fact that, though they do appear to be associated with cancer, it doesn’t explain how, or equally as importantly, why they trigger it. Nor does it explain why they exist. All genes have had their uses in earlier lifeforms. Otherwise, they wouldn’t exist now. So, the question that should be asked is: What benefit did oncogenes provide early life? Recent research demonstrates that human oncogenes are quite ancient. At the very least they date back 600 million years. That puts them back to the beginnings of multicellular life in the oceans. It means that they are very primitive, associated with loosely connected cellular lifeforms, not even with well-defined primitive forms like sponges.

Evolution is economical. Once something is developed, it tends to remain. Though a gene may not be active, it still exists. It’s expression is suppressed. In more recent evolution, such as whales losing their legs, occasionally a whale is born with a poorly suppressed gene that allows residual legs to grow. So, if gene suppression is removed, then older genes can regain expression.Human Embryonic Stem Cells Differentiating into Liver CellsIt is, in fact, the removal of gene suppression that allows a cut to heal and an embryo to develop. As the authors rather eloquently wrote:

We thus argue that cancer cells are not newly evolved types of cells, but heirs to an ancient toolkit and a basic mode of survival that is deeply embedded in multicellular life. Cancer, like a lazy poet, when called upon to produce new poems, reaches into its trunk of old poems and pulls one out at random, often finding a good poem, popular a billion years ago. These poems are not shoddy, inefficient, preliminary doggerel, but elaborate compositions with pathways that took millions of years to evolve.

They describe cancer as the “default mode” for multicellular life. As evolution developed, more sophisticated and complex methods of survival developed, but the old goodies weren’t eliminated. They were simply suppressed, making them available when need arises. But, as we can see in cancer, oncogenes are robust, providing a means of existence in the face of nearly impossible circumstances. When serious threats are presented to cells, old programs may be brought into play. Wound healing is a prime example. Ancient programs are activated to repair injuries. In the case of cancer, these programs appear to be oncogenes. They’re activated because something is wrong. Their environment is toxic or isn’t providing cellular necessities, such as nutrients or oxygen. So the barriers to their expression are removed, giving the cells another chance for survival.

Neurosphere Giving Rise to Nerve CellsCancer and Its Environment

Of course, survival for the individual cancerous cells is ultimately at the cost of the organism’s survival. This, though, may not be the extreme price that it appears to be. It isn’t until the cell’s existence is already threatened that it becomes cancerous. Precancerous cells aren’t able to continue their symbiotic roles in supporting the body anyway. The rest of the organism isn’t keeping its part of the symbiotic bargain. Thus, from the cell’s point of view, there is nothing to lose by unleashing the ancient programming.


The oncogene/cancer program evolved in a different environment, that of a primitive sea. Later, plant life spread on land. It sequestered carbon, pulling it from the air and, indirectly, the ocean, making it less acidic. Before then, the sea that harbored the first multicellular life was most likely highly acidic. That may explain why cancer prefers an acidic environment.


Cellular energy is usually produced through a process that requires oxygen. Cancer cells, though, don’t utilize the same process. They use glycolysis, which converts glucose (sugar) to energy and requires no oxygen. This should not be too surprising, since it’s believed that the ancient ocean that gave rise to the first multicellular life was held little oxygen. Glycolysis also produces the acidic environment preferred by cancer.

Cancer Cell Changes

The process of turning a normal cell into a cancer cell involves creating both an environment conducive to cancer and also changing the cell itself to fit that environment. To this end, oncogenes do several things:

  • Adult Neural Stem CellsTurn off apoptosis, programmed cell death initiated by age or signals from the environment.
  • Turn off anoikis, which is similar to apoptosis but initiated by separation from normal surrounding cells. This is a requirement for metastasis by allowing cancer cells to detach and spread to other areas.
  • Turn off aging by creating enzymes that repair telomeres, which normally shorten, signalling the approach of apoptosis.
  • Change characteristics of viscosity and elasticity, which helps allow the cell to move, invade other areas of the body, and colonize it—the definition of metastasis.
  • Remove surface receptors, which allows the cancer cell to evade the immune system.
  • Cause the cell to secrete corrosive enzymes, which dissolve organ membranes, allowing cells to enter the blood and lymphatic circulatory systems. Cancer cells use them as highways to colonize other areas of the body—to metastasize.
  • Create their own cell division and growth factors, which makes the cancer cell independent of the body’s signals.

Oncogenes enable all these changes and more. There is nothing simplistic about cancer cells and colonies. It should be clear that the old mutation and viral explanations, other than as possible triggers, cannot possibly explain cancer.

Three Neurons and Embryonic Nerve CellsThe Holistic View of Cancer

In this theory of cancer, cells don’t adapt to help the organism survive. Normally in an organism, cells have given up their independence for the benefit of the whole. When cancer takes hold, the cells have staged a rebellion. They no longer act as part of a single organism. Instead, their goal is survival only of the themselves, the cancer. They forego the benefits of symbiosis, behaving instead as a particularly potent parasite. After all, having been part of their host, they know and manipulate it better than any invader.

While cancer is a survival technique, as symptoms are generally viewed in holistic healing, survival isn’t focused on the organism. Instead, the focus is on the cancer’s survival, even though it must mean the organism’s death. The primitive oncogene doesn’t know the difference between the ancient ocean environment and the body it inhabits.

Nonetheless, holistic methods should still hold the key to cancer therapies. Their focus is on the organism’s overall health and they strive to return it to health. Even though cancer breaks the rule of holistic systems by not being an attempt to heal the organism, it is still a survival attempt—and it happens because of underlying poor health that creates an environment within which the cells cannot survive.

Therefore, it’s fairly clear that the only way to heal cancer is by returning the body to health. Though cancer is the exception to the rule of a symptom being an attempt to heal, it signals more clearly than any other condition that the only way to approach healing is by focusing on overall health. It is, after all, the body’s environment that drives cells to cancerous mutiny.

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